Monday 31 August 2020

An Augustine walk of life

Doing more than I thought
I think I have gained the ability to exert myself in ways I would have never considered not too long ago. In planning my walk for yesterday after church, I considered walking to Sale Water Park, my course was just over 7 kilometres with an estimated duration of about 90 minutes.
Along the way, a confusion of road signs left me veering off course, but not away from the bearing, for soon I recognised a place I had walked to some weeks ago and was able to redirect my path under I got to the banks of the River Mersey.
It was my intention to return home for our Sunday soiree drinks, so I walked up to a tram stop and made it just in time for the drinks.
Stretching the goals
Today, being a Bank Holiday, I could also not be happier for the fact that this was the first time in seven years our neighbourhood did not have to endure the cacophonous revelling of Manchester Pride which occurs for 4 days from Friday at the August Bank Holiday. One appreciable benefit of the pandemic, one might say.
However, I had another look at the route to Sale Water Park, but instead of going there, I veered left after Hardy Farm towards Chorlton Water Park which extended my walk to just over 9 kilometres.
To lengths that surprise
After taking a rest by the lake, I walked on the north bank of the Mersey to Princess Road and then over the river back down and to the Sale Water Park tram stop, altogether another 4 kilometres, but which time I had done enough for the day.
I only started measuring my exercise activity on the 7th of August and I have done 337.44 kilometres of walking in 25 days. That is a feat I would never have thought possible. It is good fun; I think the girth is trimming and the pounds are beginning to fall away. The test of all this would be in keeping it off rather than presenting a yo-yo effect. What I need to investigate is how my pace is getting better, but my heart rate is stuck in the fat-burning range when I need to be in the aerobic range.
Tomorrow, I should have the month statistics for review.

Sunday 30 August 2020

After death, what do your tributes matter?

Speaking good of the dead
I have always wondered about the eerie spectre of tributes about someone has passed to the Great Beyond because, except if we know quite differently, whether the person so fondly memorialised and eulogised to the point of hagiography ever in the realm of time and space beyond the realm of our perception gets to have a viewing and hearing.
For in the beautiful things we get to say, have we once ventured when the person was present and able to interact and respond we deployed the effusive praise that they are left to gush and blush at the surfeit of encomium and praise that they are left speechless in accepting compliments and so emotional in experiencing the genuine expression of love, respect, and awe.
To the hearing of others
In the absence of that uniquely special case of tributes breaking through the veil to the intangible ethereal eternal timelessness that encompasses, you are left thinking, the glowing obituaries and expressions of sympathy, condolence, and regret are all demonstrations for the living, for once the spirit and soul have left the bodily presentation of the person we once knew, they are forever gone and out of reach or touch.
It should make us reflect on what we could have done with the chance and opportunity to speak and act, it should not matter if at the end one brings another perspective to the enigmatic personality, but to have done things when they could be fully appreciated and not so much in search of recognition but in the unconditional celebration of those who matter.
Doing it when it matters
It does not mean we should be quick to act, to speak or to praise, however, every acknowledgement and recognition of another is not just an act of genuine kindness, it is an expression of gratitude for what they have brought to and contributed to our lives. Until we can hear and speak with the dearly departed outside of esoteric and questionably paranormal environments, our tributes, though making for interesting listening and hearing are absolutely worthless to those we portend to celebrate.
The words of Mark Antony ring loud and clear, for there was nothing more he could do for Ceasar after he had been assassinated, but to lead the procession for his burial.

Saturday 29 August 2020

Cancer is a human experience, not a battle won or lost

In the great spirit of man
I did not know much about Chadwick Boseman or the body of work he had done. In fact, when Black Panther was a box office hit, I was still thinking of other representative films as Fences, Hidden Figures and Moonlight.
His passing at 43 after suffering stages of colon cancer diagnosed from 2016 during which he exhibited amazing acting prowess in seminal films is not only commendable but a show of stoicism and human spirit under great life-threatening affliction and infirmity. In the great spirit of man are such fortitude and immeasurable strength.
Cancer is not a battle
When I had Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a form of skin cancer as a result of HIV complications in 2009, I was 43, each time I read of people dying from cancer I find it difficult to appreciate the narrative of losing the battle to cancer.
As we live with it and sometimes live through it, it is rarely a battle, we are not at war, that some of us have survived it is one of great providence with many other factors of medicine, medical care, probably good fortune and even state of mind, but I did not cross swords with cancer and leave it vanquished.
We are given stories to tell
I will not pretend to speak for others who have survived cancer as I have, but what I know was at diagnosis, I was given 5 weeks to live, if my physiology did not respond to the treatment favourably. The consultant, however, was confident that if I did respond well, it would be fine. In just 5 weeks, I will mark the 11th year of my first session of chemotherapy.
Cancer is a scourge on humanity, maybe even a terror and terrorist as it ravages our bodies and we are left at the mercies of many things outside our control except for our human spirit that remains a force of life until our bodies give in to find eternal rest.
For me, I have been given a story and the way I tell it is, cancer happens, it is part of life, some of us live it to the end and others come through it, but until we are gone, we are still here, to some a hope, to others a light, that it does not have to end with just that.
All experiences are gifts to medicine
Any death from cancer reveals our vulnerability even more, to such a young man, there are no easy answers but the fond memories and tributes we can offer in recognition of his life along with the support and sympathy we can offer his survivors.
In everyone’s experience is also some new knowledge for medicine to give us all new hopes for survival. That is what gave my consultant confidence at my prognosis and that is why I encourage inviting medical students to my consultations. I am a story of possibility not of triumphalism over cancer.
May the soul of Chadwick Boseman rest in peace.

Friday 28 August 2020

Understanding the power of communication matters

It is Babel out there

It would usually happen, technologies that overlap, strong expertise in the separate technologies that seep into egotistical posturing, then exacerbated by a very political setting that engenders silos of indifference whilst all working for the same organisation.
What you get is a tinderbox of conflict and reverberation played out in emails with escalating intransigence as more and more people who already have enough trouble to deal with are drawn into it with the hope that one would prevail and other is vanquished.
Yet, I do not indulge in these power plays and that is what it sometimes demonstrates to gain any particular benefit than to see that what in my reasonable professional opinion gets done. This is where communication, clarity, persuasion, courtesy, and evidence matter. I will not propose without the supporting documentation and references to buttress the point.
The compelling urge to respond
Then, I rely on the reasonableness of my argument to eventually persuade those who can engage to facilitate the necessary. After a number of exchanges, a response came back that left me quite exasperated. Having conceded that the viewpoint was acceptable the rest bordered on infantile invective.
I could have immediately replied, but I could see no further need to conduct that conversation, I left it to my managers to take to the next level and that is what I asked them to do. Generally, I am no fan of needless meetings that yield no progress. I would rather just give my managers the information they need to thrash out the essential compromises and we can get on with what we need to do.
Just let it work
As the email cooled off for a few days and over the weekend, I had begun to craft an adequate response in my head that I began to write on Tuesday, I was not convinced of the need to send it, so, it lay in my Drafts folder.
A meeting scheduled for yesterday was postponed to today and it was my intention to maintain silence until when prompted. I could not have anticipated the developments when concessions were fully made with even more support than we anticipated. All this arrived at on the review of their systems and realising that our request was as reasonable as it could ever be.
At their behest we now have ample opportunity that probably would never have been possible without instigation, that first went completely contrary and sour to cooperation and acquiescence. That’s why I do what I do, I am a geek of sorts but it takes a different kind of political communication strategy to get radical change to a point where it gets the full support of competing interests and eventual implementation.

Thursday 27 August 2020

Pulling ponchos off the rain game

Whether the weather
Obviously, even as an Englishman avoiding the trite conversation about the weather might be the maturation of communication skills. As a Mancunian, it is literally unavoidable when it is practically obvious.
The weather forecast had already indicated it was going to rain from the mid-afternoon onwards, so come rain or shine, I still had to get out for my walk. After my dreadful experience in the rain and the dark on Tuesday, the last thing I wanted was to lament with self-flagellation and pitiable abandon.
The poncho is out
The poncho was not doing it for me, I needed good cover, warmth, pockets and protection for my face and glasses. I went out yesterday and get a decent all-weather jacket with a hood. None had breast pockets, but the side zipper that could allow in the air seemed a good trade-off because I could put my phone in one of the pockets and pass the cable through the slit traversing the inside of my jacket to my ears.
I have not convinced myself of Bluetooth headphones or ear pods. To protect my face, I wore a baseball cap under the hood and in the light of day made out to a park in the rain. It never stopped for the 12 kilometres I walked. I was tired enough at the end of it, though the pace was slow and I did sweat a bit. My conclusion, the jacket beats the poncho, hands down. I suspect the night would be quite sleepy too.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

It's walking and it's working - I

A bit on the side of rotund
I would be the first to say that it has not been the easiest activity I have undertaken in a long while. As pandemic restrictions eased at the end of last month, I booked an hour a day at our apartment village gym, but I just did not enjoy going there walking on a treadmill and doing abdominal exercises.
Within a week, I was quite off the idea but I found that walking felt better, walking streets, roads and parks for up to 3 hours without stopping, keeping my heart rate at a level that was more in the aerobic range than just the fat-burning range seems to be doing something, but there is a lot more to do.
It was 20 days ago that I stretched a tape measure around my midriff over my navel and the reading was more a shock than I was ready to register, a whole 39 inches of Mr Michelin girth sturdily creating the misnamed love handles of flab that could cook fast food for a hungry city. I had to address it.
Just a little bit off
I did not concern myself much with it until I saw the dreaded tape measure this morning. Temptation got the better of me and the news is I have shed 2 inches and I can probably shed a lot more if I do not relent. I am glad there is some progress and improvement. It shows what I am doing is having some effect and results are part of the encouragement one needs where all you have is self-motivation.
I am losing the visceral fat, the lot that clings to internal organs that I cannot see, it is likely that I am beginning to lose weight too, but that is a long term thing, shedding the pounds is a lot slower without essentially starving oneself in the process. I have never been a calorie counter, I have reduced both sugar and salt, drink more water, attempt to get more sleep and put in the walking exercise. I am even surprised that I have more strength in my stomach muscles to review Rebecca-Louise’s workout.
I am not celebrating much because the job is not only in shedding the excess, the real success is in keeping it off. This means there has to be some sort of structure and method to the activity, keeping at it without relenting. I am sure I have the resolve, but it is early days and each day is a day more.

As time promises times for everything

We assure ourselves
In the scheme of things, you wonder what assurances lovers can give each other if there is such a distance between them even as situations outside their control do not permit what they could immediately do to be together.
Communication by all sorts of media becomes the key, for technology avails us much from writing, audio messages, audio-visual messages to live video conferences. We confirm and affirm the bond we have established in anticipation of our next meeting.
A dawn comes
The times are such that we are beginning to see a horizon, a time to put the ravages and limitations of this pandemic behind and lay the foundations of a life of formal union that binds our destinies together from heart to legal paper, recognised in jurisdictions that accept that such love is not only significant but is worthy of celebration.
In this the plans are taking form, we are on our marks, getting set and will move at the split sound of the starting gun, and you better believe it would not be a false start. In our pledges we have been betrothed, in our yearnings, we have been studiously patient, and, in our knowledge, we know that soon will not be a very long time to come.
For he, there is only one more thing to say, You’re My Everything, and that is all that matters in this world.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Plotting the puddles of Manchester

Rain, Rain, Go Away
What a miserable evening it was in Manchester, the heavens opened with the blessings of rain and I was over 8,000 steps short of my daily target. What to do in such beautiful weather? That is the reputation of glorious Mancunium.
I put on my poncho as the dusk darkened the sky, my eyesight not too accustomed to the diminished light in the rain and even poorly calibrated for stereo vision, I launched out with a plan to stay on the roads walking the pavements which were at best like undulating hills that rose and fell with the regularity of the lack of maintenance.
The exploration of puddles
I had not walked the first 500 metres when the first car splashed me and that became the majority of my journey. If I was not being splashed much as I tried to navigate those bodies of water, I was stepping in puddles, upsetting paving stones that rocked to bathe me in muddy ejections and without wipers on my eyeglasses, I suffered.
My hand towel was wet for a wringing by the 3rd kilometre, but I persevered, I only had to get in just over 6 kilometres for my tracker to buzz at 10,000. In the end, I did just over 9 kilometres and getting home was more than a relief. I probably should split my walks for inclement weather and avoid the night-time if possible. Maybe I need better rain cover than a poncho, my upper body did not get wet, it did leave me any comfortable either.
That’s today, now to consider options for the next. I felt like Doctor Foster when went to Gloucester, thankfully, I did not fall in a puddle up to my middle. Thankfully!

Your member is a big figure in my parliament

A rising member
As he rises to speak, they observe the prominence he wields that puts all other members to shame. Maybe it was the oracles or it was foretold that he was born to represent his city, some say the circumstances of birth alone with the dexterity of the midwives ensured it. Between myth and reality, the truth stretches itself to fill the part.
His maiden speech filled the listeners with respect, it was awesome in its structure, full of colour that language lends to passion and significant for the purpose at hand. Legend has it that his constituents ribbed others saying, “Don’t you wish you had a member this good?”
Obviously, for this secret parliament, most hearings are done in-camera because the matters arising are quite volatile to forestall public anxiety. He is magnanimous and exudes the milk of human kindness for which he must be duly commended. His people love him and very few have begun to tell the story of his parliamentary acumen and generosity of spirit. When the time comes, you will indeed know of this member.

Monday 24 August 2020

Normal transmission resumes

No living rent-free in my head
To be honest, the thought that I was being stalked was unsettling and after a few contacts from Twitter and Grindr, one is left with no other option but to gather all the pieces of evidence pursuant to a criminal investigation. Whoever the person is might think they are playing games, but this can so seriously escalate and destroy them.
Obviously, to the extent that it affected me, I broke a few conventions, my daily blogging streak from the 5th of March was broken on Saturday and I did not get to church on Sunday. However, I kept to walking, because it gave me time to think and recoup myself.
Walking to many places
For instance, I was thinking of announcing last Thursday that I had completed 21 consecutive days of walking at least 10,000 steps. The figures themselves are mind-boggling for a person of my sedentary and somewhat unbothered lifestyle.
In those 21 days, I had walked 394,293 steps and an average of 18,775 steps a day, to even think there were months I did not make that number. I also go myself a spare  Honor Band 5 tracker with charging docks because the battery does not last as long with Bluetooth and constant heart rate monitoring switched on.
Planning for that too
The good thing is, I can switch my tracking bands on my Huawei Health app and it starts monitoring from the other band. The next badge is 100 days of doing 10,000 steps a day. I am taking a day at a time. My sleeping pattern is improving, getting in more hours but not enough deep sleep continuity, it is work in progress.
The job presents interesting challenges that are instructive and exciting. In other important news, we are planning towards when the embargo on international travel is lifted and we can meet up in Cape Town. I have begun to make a travel list, soon is a timeframe that soon comes to pass.

Saturday 22 August 2020

The excuse of the life of a stalker

Stalking into swamps

It has come to my notice rather shockingly and unsettlingly that some people yet unknown have a preoccupation with not minding their own business. For one reason or another, a celebration of middle-aged gay love has infuriated them to the point that what circumstance and providence has brought together they are inclined to put asunder.
For me, it is of no consequence, I know the promises I have made and the commitments I intend to keep. My life is mine to live whilst those others who out of the misery in their own existence think they have the power to share that misery to upset the situation in others.
The life of a stalker is a curmudgeonly existence of dissatisfaction with their world as they try to project their miserable lives to find some vacuous fulfilment. The walk in the shadows and never in the light. As we ply the paved roads of solid and sturdy engineering, they stomp and sink in swamps infested with critters, snakes and disease. They are in the pain of heart and soul.
We have something
There is no doubt that we live in trying times, the pandemic has placed limitations and restrictions on things we would have liked to do, but that is temporary, the night can only last so long before that dawn despatches it into a forever eternity and the light, the warmth and the beauty is once again exposed to view.
I have a past, it is my story, my present has its struggles and uncertainties, my future is one of hope, expectation, promise and love that cannot be swayed. To the inconsequential busybodies whose happiness has for whatever reason been removed from them as far as the east is from the west, I sympathise, I can even empathise, but for all you are attempting to foment between Brian and I, you will fail so well to be an object of pity.
We will get married and show the world what we have, not just for that fact that it is a good thing, maybe in a small way there is someone out there plagued by identity and acceptance who would find realisation and purpose in living out their truly exuberant lives. We are not going away, get that straight and clear. Thank you.

Thursday 20 August 2020

The politics of arrogance in the office

My mercenary career
I have been doing office politics for longer than I care to be concerned, it is probably why I have preferred the role of being a consultant rather than an employee, there is a sense of independence it entails without having to pander to hierarchies of management and human resource departments.
Obviously, you still somehow report to someone within the organisation and it is the organisation’s decision to either retain or terminate your contract. I would be the first to concede that I am not your pliant mercenary, supine as to be invertebrate and given to masochistic tendencies.
Autonomy matters and where it is non-existent, I would well be on to something else than endure the situation. Gosh! I have standards and the traditional ones of respect, courtesy, and consideration rank highly in my book.
A nasty trait of arrogance
Quite recently, I have run against a cohort of intellectual arrogance that deadens the capacity for the comprehension of basic facts. They have decided in their fiefdom that they must retain absolute control that even the most reasonable argument leaves them unpersuadable. It is a sorry sight to watch.
When engagement for understanding, cooperation and facilitation simply elicits infantile truculence you are left with the wise saying of Peter Drucker, the once upon a time eminent management consultant, “discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.”
Not the easiest thing to do, but it goes a long way to fostering professional and work relationships if you willing to listen, understand, appreciate and allow. There is always another perspective to the way you see or do things if you get off your high horse.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

The difference in a day

Wanting and wanted

Days when I just feel so tired and I am caught between wanting to sleep or do something else without any persuasion to attend to anything but by the force of will I begin.
Sometimes, it is the dearth of inspiration out of which one would find no persuasion with the risk of thinking you are beginning to fail or do as good as you think you are able to. With the day that is passing bring its own issues some of which at the beginning could have caused stress, you are glad you made something of it.
Maybe also when everything is done, there is a badge as a reward too.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Quickening my steps from silly fears

How did I get here?
There are places my legs have carried that my feelings have taken on exciting alertness in the anticipation of danger whilst I rationalise in my mind and thoughts that there is nothing to fear, for where I am passing through would soon be behind me.
Then, I do not think that works that well for me when I find myself near old churchyards or graveyards. Something from my youthful past when my imagination was triggered by conversations, I overheard that presented apparitions of deep conviction no one else could perceive.
I quicken my steps whilst trying to keep my mind clear of inspiration or vision of the paranormal. You wonder how these things seem to have an enduring effect even though one is spared the experience that makes horror films tame.
Maybe I should just stop being irrationally timid, so I am not limited by foreboding, premonition, superstition, or intangible fright. It is a work in progress still and that is part of living and experience, the stuff stories are made of. I know I can find perfect peace for my mind and my wildest thoughts.

Monday 17 August 2020

Keep doing the good things for yourself

There I go

The thought that I would think nothing of walking 3 or even 5 kilometres to a tram stop to take me out to a walk for nature walks no more surprises me. I decide I want to go somewhere, chart a course the tram stop furthest away, yet on a straightforward route and make out for it.
In the 5 of so directions I ply from my home, I have a good sense of where the kilometre markings are up to the fourth in at least one case. I know that if I have gone out 5 kilometres, I probably will do at least 10 kilometres, my 10,000-step count is usually between the 7th and 8th kilometre.
The pleasure in doing
I do not know how long the walking will go on for, last night was one of interesting determination, for it was in driving rain, I put on my waterproof poncho to make up the just over 5,000 steps for the day’s target. I am on a mission, there is a badge for walking at least 10,000 steps daily for 21 days and I am just a couple of days short of it.
After that, I wonder if I would get the 100 days in a row before I hit 5,000,000 steps. In the absence of an exercise buddy, you have to set your own goals and targets, using that as motivation and impetus to keep going. I suppose I have applied the same spirit to my blogging, that even in the absence of anything to write about, I write all the same.
Much as I hate the word discipline as it suggests compulsion to varying extents, sometimes, to stick at something, you need it, even if you don’t acknowledge it. Accomplishments, personal or celebrated are good for boosting one’s self-esteem.

Sunday 16 August 2020

Stop wishing others sweet dreams as they go to sleep

Sleeping duties

Knowledge can be troublesome at times and nowhere has this been that interesting than getting an understanding of my sleeping patterns over the last week. My Honor Band 5 tracker has been plotting my daily sleep cycle from wakefulness to deep sleep, indicating I have not been getting enough deep sleep and the continuity of my deep sleep is too below the expected levels.
I seem to have lots of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which apparently is the lightest form of sleep and the region in which you dream and remember the dreams. Who would have thought wishing someone sweet dreams as they were going to bed was hardly wishing they would have a restful night?
Then, I do appear to have an above range period of light sleep, I am putting in the hours though the graphical representation of REM Sleep to Light Sleep to Deep Sleep with the fluctuations and durations can be the stuff of serious mathematical computations yet to find some formulaic expression.
Becoming better friends
I have decided not to bother too much about it, I am getting some good hours. Except if I go to a professional sleep clinic for clinical and scientific observation, I probably will not learn much more about how to benefit from sleep.
Then, it is probably the long-term side effects of pills I have been on for over a decade. The somewhat imposed decision to change them did not work that well with me for after 7 weeks, I had had enough of being a guinea pig two years ago that I asked to be put back on my old drug regimen. Besides, I have shied away from sleep medication for as long as I can remember, I would get as much sleep as nature will allow.
Some modifications to diet, the time I take my sleep and when I take my pills, might help. I have not murdered sleep; I just need to find out how we can be better than just friends.

Prejudice has no place in Christianity

The Rainbow flag fluttering on the Tower of the Manchester Cathedral today 
The Rainbow flag - Manchester Cathedral
The tenderness that prevails

The fact that I could even be religious at this time of my life is a product of divine tenderness and mercifulness that fills me with both awe and gratitude. This is because my personal experience with many strands of Christianity in the church, the customs and traditions that became rituals of strict observation replacing Scripture with the seeming helplessness of adherents whilst they were taken advantage of by those in authority creating personality cults is enough to be bruised for a lifetime.
Yet, within this morass of faith and spirituality, the conflicts of thought, truth, and humanity, I have found something that gives me a sense of belonging along with experiencing wonder in spirituality and belief. I have written many times about the fact that I have returned to my Church of England Anglican roots, it works exceedingly well for me.
Outsiders everyone
The readings in church today along with the sermon delivered by the Dean of Manchester was a ministry in diversity. The first part was in Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, the first verse and part of the second, then the verses 29 to 32. This was one that jumped out at me that I did not appear to notice that well before.
The Message translation says it best for all the versions I have reviewed. I start with, “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never cancelled, never rescinded.” Yes, I still speak in tongues and I got introduced to that in the Pentecostal phase of my Christian growth, I get much comfort and sustenance from doing so.
However, it is this that was amazing to me, “In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.” God has made us all the same, wanting and unqualified that we all can recognise His mercy. [Bible Gateway: Romans 11: 29 – 32 (MSG)]
The crumbs are enough
The gospel reading came from the book of Matthew 15:21-28, where a Syrophoenician Canaanite woman came to Jesus to ask for the healing of her daughter who was demon-possessed. At first, Jesus ignored her, but she was unrelenting. Jesus asserted He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel, but she approached more closely and worshipped Him.
At that point, Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” This is a statement I have never fully understood because it reads as both an insult and deep prejudice. Somewhere else Jesus had said, and I paraphrase, “Shouldn’t this daughter of Abraham who had been bound by Satan for 18 years be set free on the Sabbath?” Yet, here, it appeared he was not ready to help.
The woman however challenged his prejudice with a retort, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” As far as she was concerned, the crumbs falling off the table would feed the dogs, and the crumbs of a miracle she wanted for her daughter would be enough to heal her. [Bible Gateway: Matthew 15: 21 – 28 (NKJV)}
The great faith of outsiders
To which Jesus commended her great faith and at that instant, her daughter was healed. It is notable to realise that Jesus always marvelled about little faith amongst his disciples and his people, but commended great faith non-Jews, like the Roman centurion who just needed Jesus to speak the word to heal his servant, of the Canaanite woman who believed crumbs falling off the table to dogs would heal her daughter. [Bible Gateway: Matthew 8: 5 – 13 (NKJV)]
More pertinently, it was about addressing prejudice, discrimination, inequality, difference, racism and anything divisional factor that diminishes our humanity. Our Dean was born in South Africa, here, he would be identified as black, in South Africa, he would be distinguished as Coloured. He experienced Apartheid at the beginning of his ministry in Durban and saw the Christian charity of people who refused to have prejudice remove him from the parish to which he was posted.
An inclusive church
During the last week, he supervised the hoisting of the Rainbow flag on the tower of the church, it was his clear message of inclusiveness of the church at which he has been the Dean since 2006. I was quite moved by his message; I was close to tears. The New Testament, Gospel and Christian underpinnings of the readings, his sermon and philosophy were clear, the church will not exclude anyone.
There is a bigger message here, but I reflect on how I have been able to come to terms with my sexuality and spirituality. A difficult journey in many respects and very personal too. I remember telling my pastor in my Evangelical church about my struggle with homosexuality, he asked questions, sought understanding, never judged nor condemned me. He always saw me first as a person and asked how he could be of help.
Further on, he wanted to appoint me to a leadership position even as the head of the global movement cleared said that was not something he personally would do. The fact is, we would not all be hot-blooded heterosexuals on the unwavering trajectory to marriage and procreation.
Knowing ourselves to know others
I cannot answer the question why, but God has a mission for everyone. I, in myself, whilst engaged in the church in other activities declined the offers to lead because I felt inadequate by reason of my situation even as my pastor saw more in me than I saw in myself.
The Rainbow flag flying proudly on the tower of the Manchester Cathedral was significant in that someone did write to the Archbishop of Canterbury to complain and the response of Archbishop was what the Dean decides to do at his church and chapter is his business.
Down in Cape Town where we attend the St. George’s Cathedral which was once the seat of Archbishop Desmond Tutu from during the Apartheid era, Brian and I find a welcoming church, an inclusive community, diverse in persons and walks of life, yet acknowledging of the fact that prejudice of any kind would not feature in the community.
People who have known prejudice should not themselves be purveyors of prejudice when prejudice of any sort is challenged, a way is opened to the embrace of our extraordinary humanity. Then in the first reading, we see that “God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.
You’re left asking one question, how can you be merciless if you have once received mercy? That is the basis and crux of Christianity, it cannot be escaped, it needs to be faced up to.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Numbering for slumbering

Where is my sleep?
My Huawei Health app in the Sleep quadrant has the curtain drawn with the snooze sign because I did not get the expected amount of sleep overnight. 2:44 hours is just not enough but I could not sleep. I went out in the morning and did just over 6 kilometres and the allotted 10,000 daily steps by the time it was 9:00AM.
I got just over another hour of sleep before having a meal in the afternoon and then setting out for another walk that stretched to 15.06 kilometres and 30,168 steps by 20:24 today. I don’t think I would be doing much more today, I tired enough to have settled in bed to lie down and fall asleep.
Numbers showing effort
In all, I have put in 24.78 kilometres altogether. To think there were months when I did not make 20,000 steps in total and now, I exceeded the 25,000 steps from 2 years ago on Sunday at over 28,000 and today bested it.
What I have noticed is I feel no effects from the walks, however long they are and averaging 22,520 steps a day for this week. Though it is not the numbers that matter, they still give an indication of what effort is going into it and hopefully, the effects would begin to show, not yet on the weight, but the girth is narrowing. That’s progress and good too.
Caught at the end of a long walk

Friday 14 August 2020

The big dreams without limits

I dream many dreams,
None at all little or small,
For with the gift of faith,
I move impossible mountains,
With the joy of hope,
I see the unseen possible,
The power of love,
Changing my life along with others.

I dream many dreams,
My imagination I great thrall,
Of beauty in which I bathe,
I gleam in sparking fountains,
Nothing limiting my scope,
My world inexhaustible,
By the glow of love,
I appreciate the goodness in others.

I dream many dreams,
To the sound of a waterfall,
Nature lays out a swathe,
Rolling into verdant mountains,
Into the fresh air, I elope,
To embrace the adorable,
In the depth of love,
I find one perfect out of all others.


Thursday 13 August 2020

The measure of the day and beyond

Beyond the hurdles

At work, it is a negotiation of the politics and empires that leave us pitched in turf wars where one’s basic mission is to provide service continuity regardless of the circumstances. It just feels strange that working for the same organisation, rather than facilitate some seem to find professional status in frustrating things.

You draw on your deepest communication tools of illustration, scenarios, and persuasion in the hope that the reasonableness of the proposed direction would appeal to the better part of acquiescence where refusal is the default position.

Many things and thanks

On the mind is also the desire that the restrictions locally, nationally, and internationally get eased for travel and a modicum of tourism. Though my reason for wanting this is closer to the heart, it’s been so long for too long, but we keep faith and assurance than things would change for the better.

Quite full of gratitude, I am, the kind of energy that courses through my veins that I just go on 15-kilometre walks, just like that and return home feeling literally nothing from all that walking. Just a few weeks ago, I would barely do 2,500 steps in an hour and now, I can see times when I am putting in over 3,800 steps.

I am indeed grateful for the gift of life over 10 years after cancer that there can be some pleasure in exercise and great expectations of love and more. Each day is the renewal of hope, strengthened in the knowledge that someone loves me as much as I love him. We have a word ahead of us and we would go there and to places, we have only dared dream of too. Our preparations are apace.


Wednesday 12 August 2020

Every little step I take

Out for a rout

My walks now seem to follow the nature of my blogs for how I start out is usually not an indicator of how it would end. In many cases, I would step out of my home in a direction and constantly recalibrate my course sometimes unaware of where I would end up for charting my course back home.

Today, after my early evening nap, I woke to a weather forecast of thunderstorms at 20:00 hours, which meant I only had about 90 minutes to get my walk in. I also packed my waterproof poncho, though I was not sure how I would fare in driving rain.

Packing in parks

Out towards Ashton, I turned to Ardwick and through the Ardwick Green Park and towards Longsight and then turning to Birchfields Park that I was visiting for the first time, by which time I had done 6 kilometres and I would have done my 10,000 steps at just over 7 kilometres.

From there, I turned back towards home and though I had my stopover at St. Peter’s Square for a chat to Brian and then did some shopping, it is after 22:00 hours and still no rain. Hopefully, it would rain overnight, and we can get some cool. I only managed 11.57 kilometre and in 6 days of properly recording my walks, 91.90 kilometres.

There is still some work to do, but what matters is I enjoy this more than sweating it out in a gym.


Tuesday 11 August 2020

Finding who all matters with

Finding someone special

You get to a point where you begin to realise what matters to you in life. Having done so many things, experienced things to relive and others to forget, priorities and reality begin to fix your perspective.
Nothing excites me more than company and companionship, especially that which emanates from love and a loving relationship. I know I have had the most pleasant and amazing times with a man called Brian. With him, I have glowed more brilliantly than the sun on a cloudless day at noon, all from the inside out.
When love spoke
I found a love that spoke to the deepest parts of me, different as it might be, is significant and completely relevant for us. We have planned to build a life together in societies where we would be free, happy and safe.
These words from Alicia Keys say everything I sometimes cannot find the words to express. Nothing means anything is everything is without him. “Some people want it all, But I don't want nothing at all, If it ain't you, baby, If I ain't got you, baby.”
That is the way I feel, every day and every time with the hope that soon, the pining and longing will be over, and we are together again.

Monday 10 August 2020

Walking through danger and on water

Unusual neighbourhoods

When I get home, I feel like I want to crash out after my walk and today, it was just 16.25 km in 2:42:41 hours at a faster pace than I have attempted before. I was back on the circuit of Peel Park and then to another, Albert Park before making it home.
The discovery process is one that intrigues because just over a month ago, the park was closed whilst the police searched for knives. It looked genteel enough with people of all ages at play, from children to the elderly, but what can you say about inner city places. [MEN: RECAP: Salford park closed as police search for knives]
Let’s go for a walk on water
Meanwhile, after work, I got a notification of a sermon preached by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church whose ministry I have followed for about 10 years. I do not particularly believe in coincidences, but to find that his text was the same as the one we heard in church yesterday could only mean I had another perspective to consider.
The title Water Walking 101 is worth another listening to for me, and the best I can do is share it, I hope you get something from it. What it affirms to me is we need to revisit these bible stories again, because unlike nature where seams of precious metal can be exhausted after mining, revelation and insight from the word of God is inexhaustible.
I ran the tape measure around my midriff and an inch has gone. I guess I am seeing some results. I have an earlier pill time and by that an earlier bedtime too.

Sunday 9 August 2020

I won't be walking to Timbuktu yet

Once halfway, do the rest

I began my last blog to write about taking a Sunday rest from my walking exercises but by the time I had been to church, took the detour via the Starbuck’s cafĂ© on Peter Street and made some calls as I watched the world go by at St. Peter’s Square and then returned home, I had already done 54% of my daily target of 10,000 steps.
Then, I had promised my neighbour that I would be attending our Sunday soiree which was to start at 6:30 PM. After a meal and nap, just before 4:00 PM, I was on Google maps looking for a park to walk to and I decided on Buile Hill Park which I have now learnt is the largest park in Manchester and the second oldest after Peel Park that I have visited a number of times.
Resting on improvements
It was just 5.3 kilometres away and would take about 67 minutes, I probably did it in less than that time. That was not a plan for rest, I don’t think. Unlike Alexandra Park, the circumference of the park is macadamised give a more such footing to my walk with undulating roads. I did not take time to explore the park as once I had hit 7 kilometres, I needed to return home.
Taking another route back, I had a natural emergency that left me in a rather embarrassing state for another 4 kilometres of walking home and for that walking exercise alone, I completed 14.76 kilometres and made a personal record pace of 8’46” for my 2nd kilometre.
When I got home, I found I was only 200 steps short of the 25,131 steps I achieved on the 9th of September 2018 and that must have been on a walk when I was on holiday in Gran Canaria. I could not miss the opportunity to beat that record today.
Measure for treasure
So, after the soiree, I set out again adding over 3,000 steps to bring my total to 28,322 steps and as the day is not yet over, there might be a few more steps, probably just around my apartment. In all, I am happy with the progress I am making, I am getting used to the long walks without much stress or pain. That all adds up to 23.03 kilometres today.
Most of my walking 92 minutes fell within Aerobic heart rate range and 48 minutes in the Anaerobic heart rate range, with 7 minutes going to the Extreme that I could avoid because that is when lactic acid builds up in my system and can cause injuries.
Whilst I can see my weight coming down, I think there is still a lot of work to do before it is close to where I want it and then, I have to keep it there.
Today's achievement

Breaking my steps record from September 2018

Can you abandon your experience for the extraordinary?

Learning to trust beyond experiences

I sometimes consider my situation with amusement, for I had yesterday said Sunday might well be a day of rest. I cannot say it became the day of expected rest for in the morning I made for church after a night the tracker said was better, but I appeared to struggle through trying to get more sleep beyond vivid dreams.
The message at church was based on trust and being saved from situations and disaster as depicted in the narration where the disciples saw Jesus walking on water in the middle of a stormy sea. The majority of disciples being fishermen would have known the reality of stormy seas. Small boats at the mercy of billowing waves, the fishermen caught between life and death, terrified at their helplessness. [Romans 10:5-15 (NKJV)][Matthew 14:22-33 (NKJV)]
Beyond that, even if the fishermen were strong and able swimmers, it is doubtful that when hit by a storm they’ll just jump in the water and swim to shore and safety. Besides, they might also know other fishermen that would have perished at sea without trace lost forever in the deep as a lingering memory of the dangers of their trade.
Don’t let it be too strange
It is in this context that they saw a man, the man Jesus walking on water and obviously from their experience at sea would immediately think it impossible and suppose they were seeing a spirit. Their being tossed about in their boat was compounded by the fear of the incomprehensible.
It is then that Jesus said, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Yes, he told them, and of the many translations, I like the God’s Word Translation the best, "Calm down! It's me. Don't be afraid!" [BibleHub: Matthew 14:27]
It was as if Jesus was saying He knew they had never experienced this before and it was time for them to experience the incredible and add it to their wealth of personal experience and the full recognition of his authority on earth. You could not have witnessed this and remained the same afterwards.
How our experiences rob us of the divine
Whilst they were busy processing that information, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” To which Jesus simply said, “Come!”. At the point Peter did step off the boat with all his fisherman experience in the middle of a stormy sea and walked on water towards Jesus. Until it dawned on him, fishermen don’t walk on water and he began to sink.
We can agree he was far enough from the boat not to grab it and near enough to Jesus when he cried from help and Jesus stretched out his hand to catch him, they both walked back to the boat, and the storm ceased.
For all the additional perspectives to add to this situation, there is one evident thing, your worldly experience limits your ability to experience the wonder and power of God. Then, if you do go against every knowledge you have to listen to and act on the one-word command of Come, you will experience the power of God and when your personal experience begins to cloud that godly experience, you only have cried out to be saved and brought to safety, whether you have little or great faith.
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [BibleGateway: Romans 10:13]
That was the depth and beauty of the sermon in church today

Saturday 8 August 2020

Wandering briskly into suburbia

Ashton before time

I just barely made it home in once piece after 17 kilometres of walking. I did not feel like going back to Alexandra Park today, though from my tracker, I found out that walking the circumference of the park was just over 2 kilometres long and I did 4 circuits yesterday before returning home.
My plan was to walk towards Manchester City stadium and round the city ring road, but I found a footpath that towed the course of the River Medlock then through some estates into Beswick, before I was on to Droylsden and then on to Ashton Moss, slightly short of Ashton-under-Lyne before turning back.
Unlike churches in the city, the ones I saw as I walked into suburbia still had sprawling graveyards. We sometimes forget that life, living, dying and death all used to revolve around the church.
A break for safety
At the turn, I had put 11 kilometres, and by the 16th, I got on the tram because the route back was not that safe to walk. At St. Peter’s Square, a man was remonstrating about his girlfriend canoodling with another man on the benches, rolling over with abandon that it was getting tense.
I quickly made a getaway before things turned dangerously bad. I might be getting used to walking now. My sleep after two nights of observation is under review, and I a definitely not getting enough deep sleep. I need to review the recommendations.
For music, I had Alisha Keys, Justin Timberlake and Luther Vandross, all that made for a different pace of walking. Sunday might well be a day of rest. Though that might break the trend for a badge celebrating 21 days of doing at least 10,000 steps.